Deep freezers can be a very wise investment if used efficiently. This type of freezer is best for storing food on a long-term basis, but it can also be used if regular storage space is limited. Meat is often one of the most expensive grocery items, therefore buying in bulk and storing in a deep freezer will cut costs over time. Deep freezers should maintain a temperature of 0 degrees F, and it is best to keep a thermometer in the freezer and check it regularly to make sure the temperature is consistent. Read on to learn about the best storage methods and information about storing meat in a deep freezer.
Things You'll Need
Freezer storage bags
Empty milk or juice containers
Unwrap any meat that needs to be broken into portions, re-wrap it in plastic wrap or foil and place into a freezer bag. Wrap the meat tightly and push the air out of the freezer bag to ensure freshness and longevity.
Store packaged items, such as turkey, poultry and lunch meat, by using an extra layer of wrapping. For large items, you can use foil, plastic wrap or a combination of both. For smaller times, a freezer bag should work fine.
Pack meat that will be used for soups or casseroles in a freeze container, especially if there is liquid with the meat, such as chicken stock that is pre-cooked. Make an effort to fill the container up as much as possible, but leave enough room--at least an inch--for the liquid to expand when it freezes.
Label the items you are freezing with the meat type, date frozen, expiration date and any other information you want to include, such as what the meat should be used for (casseroles, soups, etc.). Also indicate if the meat is raw or already cooked. A permanent marker is the best tool to use for labeling because it will not be effected by moisture.
Place any hot, freshly cooked meat in the refrigerator to cool. Once the meat is cooled to the temperature of the refrigerator, move the item to the deep freezer.
Pack meats close together to keep them frozen at the optimal temperature. Fill up space in the freezer by filling empty milk or juice jugs with water and freezing these. This will help keep the freezer cold should there be a power outage, and it will also help the freezer maintain a consistent temperature, therefore reducing electricity costs.
Organize the freezer by items that need to be used more frequently. For example, put the items that keep longest toward the bottom or back of the freezer. Meats that need to be used sooner should be easier to access, and kept near the top or in front.
Freezers work best when kept indoors at room temperature or a cool temperature. Extreme temperatures (hot or cold) cause the machine to work harder, and this will wear it down faster, as well as increase energy costs. Store meats in a deep freezer according to the following storage guidelines: Bacon, sausage, poultry (whole)--1 to 2 months. Hot dogs, deli cut meat, pre-cooked meat--2 to 3 months. Cooked chicken, ground meat (raw)--3 to 4 months Wild game (raw), roast, steak, pork chops--up to 12 months.
Do not refreeze previously frozen meats. Check the labeling of the meat to see if it has been frozen before, or for any "do not freeze" warnings.